Patients who are receiving chemotherapy or radiation may be at risk of infection. The most common sign of infection is a fever. Other symptoms include:


  • Chills or sweats
  • Cough, mucous production, shortness of breath or painful breathing
  • Soreness or swelling in your mouth, ulcers or white patches in your mouth, or a change in the color of your gums
  • Pain or burning during urination or an odor to your urine
  • Redness, pain or swelling of any area of your skin
  • Redness, pain, swelling or drainage from any tube you may have (e.g., Hickman catheter, J-tube, urinary catheter)
  • Pus or drainage from an open cut or sore

 Preventing Infections

Preventing the spread of infection is critical to your health. It is especially important in a hospital, where many people are in close quarters and where cancer treatments are given that may lower the body's ability to fight infection. The most important way to prevent the spread of infection is through good hand washing.


Is there a proper way to wash my hands?

After wetting, rub your hands together with soap for 15 to 30 seconds, then rinse well with water. The amount of time you wash is important. The longer you wash, the more dirt and germs are removed.

Wash your hands:

when they are dirty.

before and after contact with another patient, family member, or health care worker.

before eating, drinking, and handling food.

after handling dirty items.

after blowing your nose, sneezing, and going to the restroom.


What are other ways to protect myself against infections?

  • Ask members of your health care team if they properly washed their hands before seeing you.
  • Do not share patient care items, such as dishes, towels, creams, toothbrushes, etc.
  • Be alert - take an active part in your own care or the care of your loved one.
  • Ask your doctor or nurse to speak with a dietitian about special instructions for diet and food preparation.
  • Do not touch your nose, eyes, or mouth with contaminated (unwashed) fingers.
  • Avoid anyone with an infectious illness.
  • Avoid anyone with an acute respiratory illness (sneezing, coughing, sore throat). If this is not possible, you and they should wear masks until their symptoms disappear.
  • Use waterless alcohol hand cleanser if soap and water are not available.

Who is at greater risk of infection?

Cancer patients who are receiving treatment

Neutropenic patients (patients with a low white blood cell count)

Stem cell transplant (SCT) patients

Leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma patients


¿Quién corre un mayor riesgo de infección?

Pacientes con cáncer que están recibiendo tratamiento

Pacientes con neutropenia (recuento bajo de glóbulos blancos)

Pacientes que se han sometido a un trasplante de células madre (TCM)

Pacientes con leucemia, linfoma y mieloma